Call for Release of Arrested Student Activists in Sri Lanka

tamil protestors

Target: Inspector General of Police, NK Illangakoon

Goal: Free student activists arrested for practicing freedom of speech in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Terrorism Investigation Division has arrested four students without charge in Sri Lanka. It is believed that they are being detained in the city of Vavuniya. Human rights groups believe that they are at risk of being tortured. Call upon Inspector General of Police NK Illangakoon to free these students.

The students, P. Tharshananth, Sanmugam Solaman, Kanesamoorthy Sutharsan, and K. Jenemajeyamenan were arrested following several days of student protests. All of these students arrested are members of the Student Union at Jaffna University. The students were protesting the efforts by security forces to stop commemorations of Heroes Day, a day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers of the Tamil Tigers rebel group that was brutally destroyed in 2009.

Student protestors responded by organizing a silent protest, a march that was viciously dispersed by plain-clothes security officers. Estimates are that 20 students were beaten and injured in the attack. While officers claim that protestors were hurling rocks at them, prompting them to break up the protest, university professors maintain that the protest was peaceful until the police harshly intervened.

Unfortunately, this is not the first attack upon student protestors in the town of Jaffna. The President of the Jaffna University Student Union was assaulted last year and beaten with iron bars. Masked men charged him with supporting the Tamil Tiger separatist movement and left him to die. In May of this year, one of the students arrested, P. Tharshananth, was beaten while on the way to give a speech commemorating the fallen soldiers of the Tamil Tiger army. Since the end of the conflict, the government of Sri Lanka has done much in the way of suppressing voices of support for the Tamil Tigers.

Sign this petition and call for the immediate and unconditional release of these Sri Lankan student activists. Sri Lanka must ensure the freedom of speech for their students so that they may fully experience their potential. Ensuring such basic freedoms will give much needed legitimacy to the human rights record of Sri Lanka.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear NK Illangakoon

The recent arrest of student activists for practicing their freedom of speech is unacceptable. I am disturbed by reports that these students may be at risk of being tortured. I urge you to release them immediately and unconditionally and ensure their safety.

The attacks that your security forces have undertaken against students damages the future of Sri Lanka. By suppressing their voices, you are teaching them nothing but that the world is closed to them. You must allow them to grow and express themselves in the peaceful ways that they have chosen. By allowing the basic right of freedom of speech by students, Sri Lanka will begin to show that they are serious about human rights.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: quarsan via Flickr

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